Latin American history is full of populist experiments. The result of this history is a political culture across the continent characterized by conflict and polarization. The most recent wave of Latin American populism is represented by neo-populism. Neo-populism identifies itself as the “socialism of the 21st century.” Its most representative expression is the Chavista regime, which was led first by Hugo Chávez, and then by Nicolás Maduro. This Article, after examining what populism is, considers how regional human rights institutions of the Americas have dealt with the Chavista regime. In doing so, this Article describes the efforts deployed by both the Inter-American Commission and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to keep Chávez under control. This Article concludes that regional human rights supervision, being relevant in the context of the Venezuelan experience, was finally incapable of either preventing or stopping the authoritarian path adopted by Chávez. This was because: (a) early supervision over the Chavista regime did not avert its leaders from abusing human rights afterwards; and (b) intensifying regional supervision over the regime became paradoxically self-defeating after it took full control of the State apparatus.
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